Diversity Hiring: 7 Essential Tips
Over the past few years, our society has come a long way in accepting individuals in the LGBTQ+ community. Yet, even with this increased inclusion, there’s an unpleasant reality for many transgender people facing discrimination in the hiring process and within their workplaces.
Now more than ever recruiters need to be mindful of the issues that these individuals face. By practicing diversity hiring and welcoming inclusivity, you can help them navigate the hiring process with respect while helping your clients find the best people for the job.
What does it mean to be transgender?
Transgender individuals are part of the LGBTQ+ community. The term transgender (also referred to as trans) is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression doesn’t correspond to the sex assigned to them at birth.
They can express their gender identity in many different ways. Some people use dress and mannerisms to align with their preferred identity, and some individuals may take hormones and/or have surgery to change their bodies.
Additionally, they may not conform to the traditional understandings of “male” or “female”. Some may identify as androgynous, non-binary, genderqueer, genderfluid, and gender non-conforming.
Why is this important for recruiters?
While progress has been made for LGBTQ+ acceptance and rights within recent years, the hiring process and workplace culture have notoriously not always been the most welcome space for trans folk.
As recruiters are often expert mediators, true inclusion means supporting LGBTQ+ professionals as they navigate a complex work environment and develop their professional careers. Success for recruiters is the ability to understand the needs of both employers and potential candidates to effectively match those who best align with the job role, regardless of their gender identity.
Tips for being more inclusive
There are many things recruiters can do to make trans individuals feel respected and understood when working with them. The following are 7 tips that can help you move forward as a transgender ally.
- Educate yourself about what it means to be transgender
The best way to understand non-binary and transgender individuals is by doing some of your own research. There are plenty of resources available to help educate yourself on how to best support your LGBTQ+ candidates.
Some resources to get you started:
Transequality – Frequently asked questions about transgender people.
GLAAD – Advice on how to be a great transgender ally.
- Ask your client the ‘awkward’ questions so they don’t have to
In any interview, candidates are nervous to perform and articulate their previous professional experience. It can be hard for anyone to ask questions about benefits, workplace culture, and diversity policies, particularly when it opens up questions about their personal lives.
As a recruiter, you can take the pressure off of your candidate by inquiring upfront about your client’s policies like their:
- Comprehensive Benefits:
Ascertain what kinds of health and medical benefits your client offers to their employees. Do they support the needs of transgender employees? Does their insurance cover same-sex partnerships? Do they cover parental leave instead of just maternal leave?
- Workplace Culture:
Culture plays a large part in whether or not someone from the LGBTQ+ community feels welcome in their work environment. Perhaps ask questions about gender-inclusive language and gender-stereotypical dress codes (men wearing trousers, women wearing skirts).
- Diversity, Inclusion, and Non-Discrimination Policies:
Be prepared to answer this question with an honest answer about your client’s policies. If they don’t have a mission to support true inclusion, are they open to addressing that? As allys we can pave the way to greater understanding and truly support our client’s success.
- Ask for their correct pronouns if you’re unsure
If you’re uncertain about a candidate’s pronouns, it’s always better to ask rather than to assume. There are many pronouns that people go by, some examples are she/her, he/him, they/them, ze/zim.
Remember, not all transgender candidates will let you know that they’re trans. A great way to navigate this is to always offer up your own pronouns when meeting an applicant. Start off the introductions including your name and pronouns, then ask for theirs.
- Always go by the name the applicant tells you
It’s quite a difficult and long process to change someone’s name on all of their documents. A trans candidate may have one name on their resume, and another on their official documentation.
Always go by the name they offer up to you – whether on their email signature, resume, or within your formal introduction. If you’re uncertain, ask.
- If you say the wrong thing (name/pronouns) offer an apology and learn from the mistake
No one is perfect, and we are always learning. It’s common to slip up and call someone by their wrong name or incorrect pronouns. Your first reaction may be to ignore it and hope it goes away, but taking a moment to acknowledge and apologize for the mistake shows respect and awareness. Being authentic and caring is much better than dismissing the recognition altogether.
- Don’t treat them any different as you would with any other applicant
Remember you’re there to determine if a person would be a good fit with your client based on their professional accomplishments. Get to know them the same way you would anyone else – ask questions about their skills, professional goals, and job experience.
Before you ask something that isn’t one of your regular questions, take a moment and determine if you would ask the same question to any other candidate. If you wouldn’t, you probably shouldn’t ask it (with the exception of pronouns).
- Don’t ask questions about their personal journey
This goes hand-in-hand with the tip above. If you wouldn’t ask other candidates about their gender journey; don’t ask trans individuals theirs. Even if you have the best intentions, not every trans or non-binary wants to be your personal educator, nor should they have to be (especially in a high-pressure situation like a job interview!)
There can be many uncomfortable struggles for candidates identifying as Trans and non-binary, and we don’t need to contribute that because of our ignorance. Remember to treat everyone as you would want to be treated (unless you are into Masochism).
By following these simple tips, you can make sure that you treat these qualified candidates with the same respect, dignity, and fairness you would want to show all of your applicants.
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